Ortofon SPU Century Stereo Cartridge
The SPU was launched back in 1958 in response to the demand for cartridges to reproduce newly-introduced stereo records. The SPU immediately set the standard for professional and audiophile applications and paved the way for the next 60 years of high-end cartridge design around the world.
In 2018, to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary and in continuation of their design tradition, Ortofon have released the SPU Century, limited to a total production of just 350 units, almost all of which have already been sold, so this is a genuine collector’s item. The Century is a state of the art product representative of numerous Ortofon design elements and ideals. With the SPU Century, the bar is raised for both its modern and vintage counterparts. The new Ortofon SPU Century has gone to the next level by reducing unwanted vibrations within the cartridge. Ortofon’s extensive knowledge of vibration and the characteristics of different materials, competences in magnetism, mechanical design and new technologies has been applied to fully optimise this model for class-leading performance.
The SPU Century is built with the magnetic system used in the SPU Classic series to embody the essence of the original design, and also uses original elements in the construction of the magnetic circuit. In that way, this 100th Anniversary cartridge retains many of the characteristics that put its brethren in a class of their own, while at the same time expounding upon new strengths to provide reproduction of sound that is unsurpassed in its full-bodied, detailed and powerful music range.
With the SPU Century, the mechanical structure of the SPU has been re-engineered, as has many of its internal assemblies. At the mechanical heart lies a revolutionary customized Selective Laser Melting (SLM) manufacturing procedure. The use of Aluminium alloy in the SPU Century has provided a further improvement to the overall rigidity of the structure as well as to the internal damping capabilities. The bottom cover is CNC-milled stabilized Beechwood for its anti-resonance properties and distinct aesthetic appeal. Also adding to the sonic performance of the SPU Century is the use of Silver-Plated Oxygen Free Copper (5NX) wire, to ensure that each and every movement of the stylus is captured faithfully without loss. The internal terminal wiring uses Ortofon’s own LW-800S lead wires, composed of Pure Silver and Silver coated wire that transmits very clear high frequency signals, delivering brilliant tonality. Michael Fremer filmed part of the machining process in this Ortofon factory tour video (from 34 minute point):
The SPU Century’s sound image is similar to its predecessors, the SPU A90 and SPU A95, but it also and combines the classic SPU’s rich bass, transparent treble range, and unrestrained dynamics and power with natural and true-to-life detailed presentation. This combined with ample resolution at the top and a more precise bottom-end offer a satisfying balance between timbre and texture.
- Beautiful in finish and form
- Nude Shibata stylus
- Outstanding housing made of SLM Aluminium and Beechwood
- Silver Plated Oxygen Free Copper wiring inside
- Classic SPU style with advanced Ortofon technologies
Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec. – 0.2 mV
Channel balance at 1 kHz – 1.0 dB
Channel separation at 1 kHz – 22 dB
Channel separation at 15 kHz – 15 dB
Frequency range at -3 dB – 20-25.000 Hz
Frequency response – 20-20.000 Hz – + 3 dB/-2 dB
Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force *) 70 µm
Compliance, dynamic, lateral – 8 µm/mN
Stylus type – Nude Shibata
Stylus tip radius – r/R 6/50 μm
Tracking force range – 3.0-5.0 g (30-50 mN)
Tracking force, recommended – 4.0 g (40 mN)
Tracking angle – 20°
Internal impedance, DC resistance – 2 ohm
Recommended load impedance > 10 ohm
Cartridge body material – SLM Aluminium/Wood
Coilwire material – Silver Plated High Purity Copper (OFC)
Cartridge colour – Black/Beech
Cartridge weight – 32 g
* Typical value